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Six of the world's best jockeys will go head-to-head with South Africa's top riders in an international jockeys' challenge at the Steinhoff International Summer Cup race meeting at Turffontein Racecourse on November 29.
Staging the first international jockeys' contest in South Africa in some 20years is a major coup for horse racing and tote betting company Phumelela and will make this year's Steinhoff International Summer Cup meeting one of the best events in horse racing history.
The Summer Cup, one of the most famous races on the racing calendar, and several other major races, will be run on the day and, in addition, six of the best jockeys in the world will compete against half a dozen of this country's top riders in a thrilling four-race challenge.
The battle between the best thoroughbreds in the land in the Cup and South Africa and the world's best riders in the jockeys' challenge will combine to produce an astounding afternoon of horse racing action that will thrill the nation.
"An international event on the horse racing calendar has been one of Phumelela's aims for some time," said Phumelela chief executive Jim Tennant.
"African horse sickness regulations make it extremely difficult to stage an international horse race, but an international jockeys' contest was achievable. We really are delighted to be staging such an event in conjunction with Steinhoff, one of horse racing's major sponsors and supporters."
Phumelela's GM: marketing and communications, Robert Garner, said the jockeys' challenge would capture the imagination of horse racing fans and the general public.
"It's South Africa versus the world and the whole country will be rooting for our riders," said Garner. "Our jockeys have been champions across the globe, from Michael Roberts in the UK to Bartie Leisher, Basil Marcus and Douglas Whyte in Hong Kong. You can bet that the level of riding skills and excitement in the four challenge races on Cup Day will be phenomenal."
Marketing executive of Steinhoff International, Derrik Matthew, said: "It is a privilege to be associated with the Summer Cup - an event which is more than 100 years old. With the initiatives undertaken and the commitment shown by all concerned, we are excited that this event will receive the prestigious recognition it deserves and be established as an annual event not to be missed."
"Fantastic news," said Pierre Strydom, one of South Africa's leading jockeys, when asked to comment on the race.
"It will be great to take on the best international riders. I can't wait."
Larry Wainstein, chairman of the Racing Association, which represents racehorse owners in Phumelela regions, said owners would back the event to the hilt.
"It's time that Gauteng had a horse racing event to match the world's best and this is it," he said.
Points will be awarded to jockeys on a sliding scale, from first to last in each of the four challenge races, and each horse in each race will be seeded to equalise the calibre of mount for the South African and international teams. More details will be announced in due course, including the names of the international stars secured for the event.
The riders to represent South Africa will be chosen by a panel of horse racing experts and application made to the relevant authorities for them to be awarded national colours.